Seven Years Without Her

For this anniversary of Helen’s passing, Mimi is printing selected paragraphs from the eulogies given by three of our children.  But first I must reveal to you a side of Helen that most people never knew. She was a risk taker, particularly on vacations.

Although she couldn’t swim, Helen insisted on sailing in bays whose proximities to the ocean made it dangerous if the boat was mishandled, and though I had been in the Navy, I was never on a boat, ship, or anything that floats.  In gathering materials for for her book, Picture of Guilt, she wanted to experience canoeing down the same river that her “make-a-believe” hero did, cruising past his estate.  She asked me to rent a canoe for us to navigate down that same Pennsylvania river.  Hoping to also become her hero, I agreed to try my maiden trip. Unfortunately, I capsized the canoe, and Helen stood in water up to her neck, laughing hysterically.  We obviously survived.

In Cambria, she thought it would be fun to ignore a sign that read “KEEP OUT, DANGER” and crawl through a hole in fence of a cattle range that included bulls. The range was not only bordered by the fence, but also a cliff with a hundred foot drop into the Pacific Ocean.  I thought this might be a might bit dangerous, but we did it. Obviously, we survived that too.

Do you remember the song “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets”?  She always figured I would somehow save her.  Life with Helen was not just concerts, ballets and operas, and a few pecks on the cheek.  It was exciting and risky as well.

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Henry’s Handpicked Excerpts from:

Mimi’s Eulogy for Mom (full post here)

If I had to pick out just one word to describe my mother; it would have to be “Luminescent.” Her smile really did “light up the room.” She wasn’t a joke-teller, but she exuded happiness. … I saw a big red truck on the 60 freeway that night. It had a giant bottle of Bacardi on the side and the caption read “Live like you mean it.” I thought to myself “You don’t need Bacardi to live like you mean it. Well, … I’ll have whatever my Mom was drinking, because SHE really lived like she meant it.” She savored every person and moment in her life as a gift from God. And she fought for every last minute of her life with courage and grace.

Lenore’s Eulogy for Mom (full post here)

We couldn’t get enough of her gift. And what’s hard to believe is that it never diminished. Ever time you saw her, when she’d first catch your eye, she’d smile and greet in such a loving way, like she was surprised to see you. This is the greeting you got whether you’d seen her the day before or if it had been weeks since you’d seen her.

I know you’ve all experienced this too; it’s why you’re here. She loved you and you knew it. That feeling will never leave us. And neither will she.

Matt’s Eulogy for Mom (full post here)

Mom was more then just a person to love and a person to be loved by. My mom was a child of God. A woman of God. When I was getting ready for my first communion my mom told me how close to God she felt at the time she first took communion. She said she felt God’s love so much, that He was so real, that if she died then (as a 7 year old), that it would be okay because she knew she would be with God. So in a sense I think my mom has been ready for heaven for the last 68 years. God knew he was going to have Mom with Him for all eternity so He allowed us all to be blessed and loved by her for 75 years. Mom used those 75 years to honor God.

6 thoughts on “Seven Years Without Her

  1. Thanks, Dad! You reminded me of a whole other side of Mom I had forgotten about. Or never really realized; I’m not sure which. You sure did pick a feisty girl to travel with through life.
    Love,
    Mimi

  2. Good post dad! Didn’t we also go on kind of a dangerous hike in Yosemite at Mom’s encouragement when we were all little kids. I think that even though mom was a risk taker, she probably thought no matter what the risk you would save her (us) if someone needed rescuing.

  3. What a wonderful reminder of Mom, Dad! I’d forgotten the story of the canoe ride and the “Keep Out, Danger” sign.

    I was in Orange County today, and found myself thinking of Mom throughout the day… and feeling sad about not being able to go to the cemetery today like I wanted to…. till I remembered her showing me what she was going to have on the back of her memorial card. she told me “read this, and remember it, becuase I don’t want you hanging out at the cemetery like I’m there.” She said she it would be ok for a little while, but she wanted to be thought of and remembered in all the placed where she lived and loved.

    Mom was such a glorious person, wherever she was felt more lively and endless love abound!

    • Mom telling you this, reminded me of a time (after they had moved into the apartment) when Mom and I were talking. She mentioned to me, Patty I’m not afraid of dying. What I am afraid of, is that I’m going to miss you all!! I reminded her how strong our families love is. That sometime we just call her just to chat (not to tell her anything specific). AND NOTHING COULD STOP THAT!!! Her body was not feeling well. Her soul would never change!!! She smiled and hugged me. Said that made helped her. She also asked if I would promise not to stop after awhile. I said I thought with all of us in different places, we might even overwhelm her sometimes. A couple of us might be talking at the same time. She might find herself saying, “I need space”. But that’s something Mom would NEVER tell us would she!!! No, if we wanted to talk she would take us into the living room (on the beigh floral couches). She would take the corner of the love seat, me corner of sofa. So, we face eachother and she would rub my hands (everything was gonna be okay). Mom, everything is still gonna be okay. You will NOT be lonely!!

  4. Henry and Family,
    7 years later and memories of Helen are still so fresh for all of us. I just enjoyed a stroll through those memories by reading stories and viewing pictures of her. She was a wonderful, loving and adventurous person. May God continue to bless us with her spirit. Love, Jan Marie

  5. I always check Helen’s site at this time of the year, as It’s the day we all said our “final” goodbyes to our beautiful, brave, funny, talented friend..Each time I check the site, (which is not often enough, and I never seem to do it when I have enough time to read every new thing that’s been added), without exception I still always learn something new about her,
    I’m sending my best to Henry and his amazing family, and letting you
    know, I’ll never forget Helen, and though she’s not here physically, she still lives on in you all. Best regards, Trish

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